Game 74, Mariners at Angels

marc w · June 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Taijuan Walker vs. Matt Shoemaker, 7:05pm

Tonight, we’ve got an intra-divisional battle between two righties who rely on a splitter, and the start of a 9 game road trip down the west coast. I’d say that it’s a crucial one, but I think the series that meant the most to the M’s playoff odds have already happened. Nothing’s set in stone, and I’d love to see a miracle run only because more people would be amazed by Edgar Martinez, but the M’s need to go on a long run just to get to the point where going on a run might become meaningful as opposed to cosmetic. The M’s open this homestand in last place in the West thanks to the streaking A’s victory over Texas. The M’s may well catch the Rangers in the second half, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they reel in the Angels, too. But going into tonight’s game, the A’s run differential is nearly 100 runs better than the Mariners’.

That just means we can do what we’re so accustomed to doing, and scan each game for signs of improvement and development. Taijuan Walker’s been a joy to watch for the past month – he’s in the zone more often, and he’s missing more bats despite of it. As we’ve talked about before, he’s using the bottom of the zone more with his fastball, and he seems to have improved his deception a bit, as hitters aren’t sitting on his split like they know it’s coming – through his start in Toronto, batters whiffed on 1/4 of their swings on splitters. Since then, they’re missing on about 40% of such swings. His improved command of it means he can now use it as a putaway pitch to *right*handers, something he didn’t do early on – he either tried to blast fastballs past people, or used his cutter/slider thing, which hasn’t been good.

He’ll face Matt Shoemaker, the great out-of-nowhere story from last year who posted a brilliant K:BB ratio and helped solidify the Angels staff when Garrett Richards went down with an injury. Shoemaker was a minor league journeyman who put up a fascinating statistical profile. He had great control, struck out more batters than average, and gave up home runs at a standard rate. At home, he was dominant – mixing that K:BB ratio with an ultra-low HR rate in part thanks to his home park, and in part thanks to an average GB rate. On the road, things looked shaky – he gave up lots of HRs, and was much more of a fly ball pitcher. This is the tricky thing about rookies, especially out-of-nowhere guys that scouts/prospect guys haven’t been dissecting since their first rookie-league appearance: to what mean do you regress a guy like this to? The league average is a good idea, but what do you do with such marked home/road splits? Is he *actually* a fly-ball pitcher who got a bit lucky at home? Or is he *actually* a poor man’s Iwakuma, who’ll get enough grounders that even a high HR/FB wouldn’t make him useless? This year at least, we’re getting closer to an answer, though not the one Angels fans would’ve wanted.

Shoemaker’s GB% has dropped, and while his HR rate on the road is just about unchanged, he’s giving up more HRs at home now, too. Gone is the odd split in his batted ball profile – he’s now an equal-opportunity fly-baller. Combined with some regression in his HR/FB rate, as expected, and he’s been shockingly bad for a guy with a K:BB ratio of over 4:1. One of the things that made him so effective last year was that his splitter allowed him to strike out lefties at pretty much the same clip as righties – he had fairly small platoon splits. This year, his K:BB ratio has actually improved against righties, but it’s fallen off to lefties, and that’s pushed those splits up. The raw splits don’t look too different, but that’s only because HRs have acted as an equalizer, making righties and lefties look effective. But looking at each component, it looks like lefties have adjusted to Shoemaker. Last season, lefties hit one HR off of his split and hit a combined .152 with a .200 SLG%. This year, lefties *already* have 5 HRs off the split, and are slugging .588. They’re making more contact off of him and punishing the pitches that they make contact with. Shoemaker’s not a bad pitcher, and he now looks nearly as unlucky as he did last year; a lot of that HR/FB luck could regress back to the mean, maybe starting tonight. But while a guy with a great K:BB ratio often seems like a terrible match-up for the M’s, Shoemaker’s someone the M’s lefties can punish. Though Shoemaker has struck out 15 Mariners to just 1 walk in 2 starts in 13 1/3 IP, the M’s have FIVE HRs against him. More of that, M’s.

1: Morrison, 1B
2: Jackson, CF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Seager, 3B
6: Trumbo, RF
7: Smith, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Zunino, C
SP: Walker

Tacoma beat Reno in extras last night, getting a walk-off sac fly to win 1-0. Hisashi Iwakuma started and threw 4 IP with 4 Ks. Afterword, he told the TNT’s TJ Cotterill that he wasn’t happy with his mechanics but felt healthy. He’ll probably have another couple of starts to build his pitch count up; he ended yesterday’s game with 68 pitches. Scheduled starter Forrest Snow closed the game out with 4 scoreless innings of his own; he looked quite good, except for a brief bout of wildness. He’s getting more swings-and-misses, though Reno featured a few free-swinging hitters. Today, Jordan Pries starts for the Rainiers as they welcome El Paso to town.

Jackson got blown out by Birmingham, 13-0. Edwin Diaz got hit hard, the relievers got hit hard, the Generals had no extra-base hits… it was brutal. Tonight, Moises Hernandez faces off with Mark Blackmar, a righty who came to the White Sox system from Baltimore’s in a deal for Alejandro de Aza.

Bakersfield lost in extras to Houston affiliate Lancaster 8-6. Tyler O’Neill hit his 15th HR, but the Jethawks hit two solo shots in the 10th to win it. Eddie Campbell starts for the Blaze against former D3 pitcher Austin Chrismon, a right-hander out of Christopher Newport University.

Clinton lost the first game of their 2nd half 4-2, as 2014 first-rounder and Brewers prospect Kodi Medeiros had a solid start, and then reliever David Burkhalter shut the door on the L-Kings. Zack Littell posted another solid start in a losing effort, striking out 8 in 7 IP. Tyler Herb faces Zach Hirsch, a lefty who’s shown good control in the MWL this year.

Everett continued their great start with an 11-4 win in Spokane. 3B Logan Taylor had 4 hits, and SS Drew Jackson had 3. The AquaSox head back home tonight to take on the Boise Hawks and starter Angel Lezama. Laane Ratliff will make his first start.


28 Responses to “Game 74, Mariners at Angels”

  1. jak924 on June 26th, 2015 5:35 pm

    It’s over. Time to start selling off pieces.

  2. jak924 on June 26th, 2015 5:41 pm

    Furbush, Happ, Jackson, Wilhelmsen, and possibly Rodney might pull in some moderate to decent prospects.

  3. jak924 on June 26th, 2015 5:45 pm

    Oh and one more thing, Jack. After giving Ackley his release, leave your keys with HR.

  4. Westside guy on June 26th, 2015 7:45 pm

    Rodney just lost his gig as a closer, and he’s old. No one wants him except maybe for free.

    Jackson is heading into free agency looking like he’s lost several steps and all his power. That’s not bringing much back. Incidentally Franklin got sent down a couple days ago. Winner: Detroit!

    Happ… might bring something of low value back. I suppose Wilhelmsen and Furbush might too. But I’d guess non-prospects for any of these guys.

  5. Woodcutta on June 26th, 2015 7:49 pm

    It is really hard to score runs when the umps take them away from you.

  6. Longgeorge1 on June 26th, 2015 7:53 pm

    The lack of offense by the M’s has little to do with the umps.

  7. Woodcutta on June 26th, 2015 7:55 pm

    Well, it should be 1-1 right now so…

  8. naviomelo on June 26th, 2015 8:03 pm

    Jackson sure looked safe to me. I don’t know how they could have called him out on the review.

  9. naviomelo on June 26th, 2015 8:07 pm

    I don’t know how they can overturn this play with Aybar in light of the Jackson play…

  10. JasonJ on June 26th, 2015 9:13 pm

    Of course a double play with the bases loaded. Can’t even get one stinkin’ run…

  11. Grayfox3d on June 26th, 2015 9:15 pm

    The Angels play us enough that they knew exactly what would happen in that situation, pretty smart if you ask me. Must be nice to have a Manager with good strategies.

  12. Longgeorge1 on June 26th, 2015 9:18 pm

    Let’s bring in Fernando just to stir up the peasants

  13. JMB on June 26th, 2015 9:32 pm

    Smith in to get 5 outs?

    On the other hand, this IS the key point of the game, Trout-Pujols. So it makes sense.

  14. JMB on June 26th, 2015 9:36 pm

    Nicely turned!

  15. JMB on June 26th, 2015 9:39 pm

    Wait, who is that in the bullpen? Oh. No.

  16. Longgeorge1 on June 26th, 2015 9:39 pm

    JMB I agree – whether it works out or not. Two of the top hitters in the league is not the time to bring in a “guy”. The 9th will be of interest. Would be nice to tack on 1 or 2.

  17. Section329 on June 26th, 2015 9:43 pm

    Please tell me that is not the Experience coming in

  18. Grayfox3d on June 26th, 2015 9:46 pm

    oh god here we go

  19. Kazinski on June 26th, 2015 9:50 pm

    Give Lloyd a little credit here, he didn’t use Rodney in the 8th against Trout and Pujols, he’s more likely to succeed in the ninth against the bottom of the order.

  20. JMB on June 26th, 2015 9:51 pm

    Taylor Featherston doesn’t sound like the name of a Major League Baseball player. Romance novel character maybe?

  21. Longgeorge1 on June 26th, 2015 9:54 pm

    Good move by Lloyd. Took some balls.

  22. californiamariner on June 26th, 2015 9:57 pm

    Please tell me Rodney isn’t the closer again.

  23. Kazinski on June 26th, 2015 9:58 pm

    I hope Lloyd continues to close by committee, the team has the arms to make it work, and another run of blown saves by Rodney really would bury the season for good.

  24. Don Money on June 26th, 2015 11:00 pm

    Great strategic use of the bullpen arms by Lloyd and fantastic game by Walker. Hope everyone appreciates what they are seeing when his spot in the rotation comes up. Only 3 games behind the teams that matter, looking forward to a fantastic second half of the season!

  25. LongDistance on June 27th, 2015 12:35 am

    Don. It’s not unheard of, such things. Who can forget how the Marlins in 2003 went from shit to shinola midseason. And the 2013 Dodgers when Puig woke up. The Marlins: maybe by firing Torborg early on, who was considered a sort of ham-handed control freak, did it? I’m always leery of the blame-the-manager game. But there’s no doubt it shakes things up. They’ve been in this tit-for-tat .500 W-L mode for most of the month, with sometimes no rhyme or reason why one day it’s this, and another that. Sleepwalking into July, and I’d love to have an inkling who or what would spark them. An inkling.

    I’m sort of sleepwalking, too. Silverlining-ing with things like: when they suck, they suck, but not as bad, and in the more hopeless way, Boston is sucking. And at least they’ve matched the suck, in lock-step, with anti-suck. OK, I know. That’s pretty thin, when it comes to trying to look on the bright side of life. But when we go into the Pollyanna With Rose-Colored Glasses mode, to each his own.

    A fantastic second half of the season? Fantastic. Yeah, would love that, right? Individual players suddenly not only regressing themselves back to levels they were expected to play at, but going on hot streaks. All that, right? That would be great. And fantastic. But, putting a caveat on all that — and it’s just my opinion — fantastic better start happening at home. Because outside of weird Tampa, among a variety of other things than can be debated, home advantage is what’s definitely working for all those effing teams that matter.

  26. bookbook on June 27th, 2015 6:29 am

    Anyone who would give up a first inning HR to Trout must suck, but still definitely a good moment to pause and admire Walker’s recent run. Thank goodness Jack failed to trade the kid.

  27. Don Money on June 27th, 2015 9:55 am

    I am banking on Edgar being able to provide more insight into the mental side of hitting, especially reading pitchers the way Blowers recalled. Again, this is the biggest flaw in Ackley imo. I have never seen a guy take so many first pitch fastball strikes and be immediately behind in the count. I’m anxious to see what Edgar can do. I appreciate what Ho Jo tried to do but I think Edgar may be a unique coaching talent, even more than Lou was.

  28. jak924 on June 27th, 2015 10:10 am

    The problem with Ackley is the same as its always been. As the pitch is delivered, he pulls his hips. He never strides into the pitch. He tries striding in, but pulls his hips out.

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